Abby Kohut

It seems almost ludicrously unfair: job postings that exclude unemployed people from applying. But there are ways to push back against this line in job ads that seems to exclude a great many qualified candidates.

Job seeking coach Abby Kohut will give a presentation at St. Gregory the Great’s Career Support Group on Saturday, July 20, at 8:30 a.m. For more information on the free talk, visit www.careersupportgroup.org.

Kohut’s talk will cover “10 Steps to Employability in 2019: What They Are and Why It Matters.” In addition to giving talks, Kohut writes a blog of job advice at www.absolutelyabby.com. In a recent post, Kohut outlined a strategy for getting around the “unemployed need not apply” stigma:

Anyone who is currently searching for a job has probably read at least one article about a company who is unwilling to hire “the unemployed.” Even more interesting is the article that I recently came across about the backlash from critics against job boards like Monster saying that ads of this kind should be banned from being posted.

As much as it would seem that encouraging job boards to remove these ads might seem like a solution, the better solution is to educate these companies from the top down on why “unemployed” candidates must be evaluated in the same pool as employed candidates. After all, even if all the job boards ban these ads, these companies can still make their own poor decisions during the hiring process.

First, let’s review some of the common reasons why people become unemployed in the first place, shall we?

Stay at home parents or caregivers returning to work. These are typically people who have made a conscious effort to be unemployed. Anyone who has ever fallen into this category realizes that their apparent “unemployment” gap was potentially more challenging than any previous job.

Those who were laid off. These are people whose departments were completely eliminated, whose companies were acquired, or simply whose companies were poorly funded. Their layoff had nothing to with their performance, and they come equipped with references to prove that. Some of these people were fortunate enough to receive a severance package and decided to enjoy life for a while and live off their severance. Life is precious and sometimes it’s hard to really enjoy it while you are tethered to a demanding job. Can you really blame them?

The terminated. These people are the ones who were let go for poor performance or for personality conflicts and have the most difficult time finding work. Even the unemployed in this group deserve to have an opportunity to contribute, especially if the termination was due to a poor fit between an individual and the job or corporate culture, or clashing management styles.

You. If you currently have a job, imagine for a moment that tomorrow you are informed that your job has been eliminated. Aren’t you a good performer today? A viable member of the work force who deserves to find another opportunity to contribute to society? Does that fact change tomorrow when you get your pick slip?

It is absurd to simply eliminate “unemployed” candidates without understanding why they are unemployed. Unemployment is simply a state that people pass through from one job to another. It is a natural part of life as is “unmarriage.” When people get divorced, they don’t simply get remarried the next day. They are “unmarried” until they are remarried. Similarly, people who are unemployed are simply between opportunities. For example, how can we as a country possibly expect people at the VP level to find a job within a week, especially if their company’s closing came as a complete shock to them? Most people “forget” to keep networking once they are happily employed so when their company closes, they truly are starting from scratch. Besides, how many VP jobs in their specific industry are out there, not to mention vacant?

Job Seekers In-Transition. If you come across a job ad for a company who is disqualifying the “unemployed”, and you actually still want to work for them, here’s what you can do. First, don’t be discouraged — most things that show up in ads and seem like “requirements” have wiggle room for exceptions. In fact, you’ve experienced this many times before. How many times have you seen a requirement on the job posting that you do not have? Has that ever stopped you? Of course not! Your job is to find the hiring manager or the department VP or the CEO and to settle the score on why you are the best person for the job. Consider this strategy:

Dear President of RudeRUs, Inc.

I recently discovered an ad for your open “WorkAlot” position on Monster and wanted to introduce myself to you as an ideal candidate. For the past 10 years I was a “WorkAlot” in a similar company who received outstanding performance reviews from all of my supervisors. I have attached a list of references on the following page which I invite you to call. They will tell you that I was a top performer who received recognition year after year for saving the company billions of dollars. My position was eliminated when my employer was acquired. Our doors closed about a year ago today.

You may wonder why I am writing to you instead of applying to your HR department. It’s simply because the ad posted by your hiring manager or HR department states that the “unemployed need not apply.” Based on my research about your company and your successful career history, it seems like the decision to include this hiring stereotype in your company’s ad could not have been yours, so I wanted to be sure that you could personally make the decision on whether my background would be suitable for your company.

I look forward to having the opportunity to learn more about the position and to eventually joining your company as a “WorkAlot.”

Sincerely yours,

John DoesntTakeNoForAnAnswer Doe

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